Advice. Its something everyone loves to give, whether solicited or not. Especially when it comes to pets, everyone seems to have some piece of wisdom that they want to share with you, never mind that the only experience they have ever had with animals is babysitting their aunt’s parrot for a week when they were 10. When you first get a pet, chances are you’re going to be inundated with snippets of advice from numerous such people who probably get their information from shady sources, such as by word of mouth. This phenomenon has resulted in the propagation of several facts considered common knowledge, which actually have no basis in reality. Some can be quite mundane or quirky, but as is with all misinformation, some can be quite harmful. Here we look at some such ‘common facts’ and attempt to verify whether their source lies in fact or just plain fiction:
1) A dry, warm nose implies illness.
A dry nose may be just that. Your pet may have been out in the sun, the weather may be hot and dry, but none of these are causes for concern. The origin of this pet myth may lie in the Middle Ages, when canine distemper was a disease common in dogs. One of the symptoms was a dry, warm nose. However, unless your dog actually has distemper, there’s no cause for alarm. Monitoring your pet’s behaviour is more likely to achieve better results if checking for illnesses. Lack of appetite, lethargy or listlessness may be better indicators of bad health.
2) Cats love milk
This is one almost everyone’s heard, and one that’s been perpetuated by the portrayal of felines in books, TV and movies. The stereotypical image of a cat lapping up milk from a saucer is on everyone’s familiar with. So here’s the thing, your cat has a very low capacity to digest milk and may even be intolerant. Giving a cat more milk than it can handle may give it digestive problems or diarrhea. It only needs to be fed milk when in is a kitten, a grown cat’s diet does not require nutrition from milk. Water however is important, so make sure you keep your kitty’s bowl full all the time, especially in summer.
Oh and while we’re at it, snakes do not drink milk either. They just don’t, despite what all the mythology says.
3) A wagging tail means a happy dog
Not necessarily. While dogs do wag their tails when they’re happy, they also use the wag to express a range of emotions, both positive and negative. So if you see a dog wagging it’s tail at you, it might simply be expressing something like ‘I do not currently feel threatened by you’, but it may become wary if you approach closer, mistaking its tail wagging as a sign of friendliness. Wait till the owner’s given you the go-ahead, since they know the dog best, they can accurately judge it’s reactions. Similarly, if the dog in question is yours, do not rely solely on studying the dog’s tail to judge it’s mood. Observe and understand his response, both physical and behavioural, to various situations and stimuli.
4) Baby animals are easier to take care of when adopting from a shelter.
This one is extremely frustrating because it is this misconception that prevents perfectly lovely adult animals from being adopted. Children are, generally, messy, noisy and destructive. So why would you assume that a baby animal would be any different? Baby animals need more care and training and involve more work than you’d have thought, while most adults at shelters have probably already been trained. Adopt a baby pet by all means if you want, those little critters need homes too, but if you’re doing it because you think it’ll involve less work, you’re in for a bit of a surprise.
5) Cats always land on their feet
Well, this one is semi true. Cats do have the ability to right themselves when falling, but sometimes they may fail to do so, especially if the fall is shorter than the time they need to right themselves. Cats have been known to fall out of windows and branches and injure themselves, so it might not be a good idea to perform gravity related experiments on your cat just yet.
6) Reptiles make easy, convenient pets
Nothing could be further from the truth. Reptiles need a lot of care, especially since a lot of the species sold as pets tend to be exotic and have special needs and dietary requirements. Their behaviour also may be more difficult to read as compared to larger pets such as cats or dogs, so you need to keep a constant eye on them to watch out for diseases or other signs of discomfort. Their tanks need regular maintenance, and the temperature and humidity need to be constantly regulated to make sure it matches their natural environment as much as possible.
7) Rabbits cannot be fed lettuce and cabbage
The key here is moderation. The truth is bunnies love lettuce and cabbage in general, but of course personal tastes differ. It is said that these green leaves can cause gas and intestinal problems in bunnies, but in fact, if given to them in moderation, it doesn’t have any effect on them. A balanced diet for your rabbit is more important than anything else.